Vaccine available for frontline health workers in Greene County; other groups remain to be scheduled based on supplies

Dr. Salahuddin Farooqui, MD shown get the vaccine.
Dr. Michael Gordon, MD receiving vaccine
Hospital staff getting shot vaccine

Last Wednesday, December 30, 2020, fourteen frontline healthcare workers at the Greene County Health System received their first dose of coronavirus vaccine at the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Dr. Salahuddin Farooqui, MD and Dr. Michael Gordon, MD were among those vaccinated in the first group. Dr. Farooqui said, “I was glad to get the shot and I am urging all others in Greene County to get vaccinated when your group is called.”
The Alabama Department of Public Health is returning to Greene County on January 6 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM and January 13 from 8:45 to 10:45 AM to provide additional coronavirus vaccinations. Healthcare workers, including EMT and other support workers should call 205-562-6952 to schedule an appointment.
Dr. Marcia Pugh said that she is expecting the residents of the Greene County Nursing Home to be vaccinated next. “We have been doing the required paperwork and getting signed approval from sponsors to vaccinate the residents of our nursing home. Their vaccines are coming through Walgreen/Pharmerica and should be scheduled soon.”
As to the next group which includes people over 75, educators and essential workers, Reagan Pettus, RN, West Central District Public Health Nurse, sent an email to Dr. Pugh advising, “We are still in phase 1a of our allocation plan which includes high risk personnel, such as frontline workers.
We have not received guidance as to when we may move to phase 1b which includes persons > 75 years, essential workers at high risk (such as teachers), and those who live in congregate settings.”
In her email, Pettus further stated, “Those who have no health problems and are not in high exposure groups will not be able to receive the vaccine until we move into Phase 2, which could be several months from now.
Alabama like many other states have been slow to receive ample supplies of the vaccines to vaccinate all the people who want to be served. Government officials say the supplies of vaccines are projected to increase in the coming months.
This news comes at the same time as Alabama and the nation are reaching record high levels of new confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the virus. Over 350,000 people nationally have died from the virus since the beginning of the pandemic in February 2020.
Monday in Alabama hospitalizations reached 3,064, which was the first time they were over 3,000 during the pandemic. Public health officials expect continuing high rates of disease, coming from the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. It will be several months, before the impact of vaccinations will reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
Public health officials are warning that people must continue to wear masks, socially distance, not participate in large indoor gathers and wash hands regularly to defeat the spread of corona virus.
More information on cases in Alabama and Greene County are in our weekly summary box on the coronavirus impacts on page 1.

Vaccine scarcity limits dispersal in Alabama Healthcare workers say vaccine is safe and urge everyone to take it

Mayor of Eutaw, Latosha Johnson and Dr. Rachel Zippert Chatters

All healthcare workers we have seen and spoken with urge everyone to take the coronavirus vaccine because it is safe and effective.
We have the pictures of two healthcare workers from Greene County: Mayor of Eutaw, Latosha Johnson, who is a nurse and received her shot yesterday at Whitfield Hospital in Demopolis where she works and Dr. Rachel Zippert Chatters, a pediatrician in Lake Charles, Louisiana, daughter of the publishers, who grew up in Greene County and graduated from Eutaw High School as valedictorian in 1987, also received the shot this week.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of infectious diseases at the NIH, Dr. Francis Collins, head of NIH, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice- President Mike Pence have all been seen taking the shot on television in recent days. They have all urged everyone to get vaccinated as soon as the precious vaccine reaches them.
In a press release today, Dr. Scott Harris, of the Alabama Department of Public Health warns, “The overriding issue at present is the scarcity of vaccine. We realize that there are many people at increased risk of exposure to the virus who are not yet able to receive immunization. As the supply of vaccine remains limited, we continue to urge the public to practice the measures needed to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19.”
The ADPH says, “We are in the first phase of vaccination, Phase 1a, the critical infrastructure workforce is identified as frontline health workers, including clinical and nonclinical workers in hospitals, nursing homes or those providing in-home or mental health care directly, and emergency medical service (EMS) providers. Various phase levels are based on risk exposure, and Alabama is currently in Phase 1a. The population that falls into this first phase is more than 300,000 Alabamians, but thus far we have received an allocation only 84,300 of the Moderna vaccine.” The State also received an initial allocation of 29,250 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which requires ultra-cold storage conditions.
During the Phase 1a. vaccination period, the administering hospital is required to use 50 percent for hospital healthcare workers, 15 percent for EMS providers, 15 percent for physician offices, and 20 percent for other hospital staff/healthcare workers not associated with the point of distribution. Residents of long-term care will be vaccinated through the Federal Pharmacy Program in cooperation with large chain pharmacies.
Dr. Marcia Pugh, CEO and Administrator of the Greene County Health System, told the GCHS Board of Directors in its recent meeting, that she has participated in zoom meetings and conference calls with the ADPH and the Alabama Hospital Association and GCHS will soon get doses of the Moderna vaccine for hospital workers and local health care and EMS workers in Greene County. No definite date has yet been given for when the vaccine will get to Greene County.
“Once the vaccine gets to Greene County, we will have to educate people on the importance of taking it when their time comes to take it,” said Eutaw Mayor Latasha Johnson. “Many Black people are skeptical about the vaccine because of the Tuskegee project in the 1930’s and 40’s and the treatment of Black people as guinea pigs for Federal health experiments,” she said.
Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker, an African American, also urged Black people to get vaccinated. Baker praised Meharry Medical College President Dr. James Hildreth, one of the world’s leading immunologists and an African American who sat on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s panel that approved the rollout of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine.
“There was an African American doctor that was in charge of the vaccine,” Baker said during a video call. “I felt more comfortable that he and other African Americans were on the boards to come up with the vaccine. And he guaranteed that it wouldn’t be another Tuskegee kind of experiment. And he urged Black Americans to use the vaccine.”
Because of the Tuskegee experiment, the notorious 40-year study that began in 1932, where U.S. Public Health officials misled African Americans about their health status. The study’s participants were infected with syphilis, and health officials withheld treatment like penicillin, leaving some to die.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s foremost infectious disease physician, also championed the work of Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, an African American scientist, whom Dr. Fauci said was at the forefront of the development of the vaccine.
“So, the first thing you might want to say to my African American brothers and sisters is that the vaccine that you’re going to be taking was developed by an African American woman. And that is just a fact,” Dr. Fauci remarked.
More than 300,000 Americans have died, and nearly 17 million have contracted the coronavirus. Some reports indicate that as many as 25 percent of COVID-19 victims are African American. However, that hasn’t stopped the skepticism about the vaccine among many Black people.
Alabama residents should exercise caution by postponing travel and avoiding gatherings during the holidays.
· Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds
·  Social distance by staying 6 feet away from others
·Avoid people who are sick
·Stay home if you can; work remotely if possible
· Cover your mouth and nose with a face covering when around others
·  Cover coughs and sneezes
·  Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
·  Monitor your health
Once additional quantities of vaccine are available, ADPH will provide information about how the public can go about getting vaccinated.
For additional information, go to https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/covid19/prevention.html

Greene County Commission holds special meeting on status of the ambulance service

Nick Wilson Chief of EMS with ambulance

By: John Zippert,
Co-Publisher

On Thursday, November 12th, the Greene County Commission held a special meeting to consider concerns with the operation and governance of the Greene County Ambulance Service.
The meeting was called to respond to concerns raised by Dr. Marcia Pugh, CEO of the Hospital, who was appointed to represent the Commission on the Board of Directors of the Ambulance Service. In an earlier Commission work session, Dr. Pugh voiced concerns over the fact that the Board of the Ambulance Service was not holding regular meetings, not having financial reports, and generally operating in an unaccountable manner.
The Ambulance Service director moved its operational office from the Eutaw City Hall to the former Warrior Academy building without consultation and approval by the its Board of Directors. Members of the County Commission, including new Chair Roshonda Summerville, members Lester Brown and Corey Cockrell also said they were unaware that the Ambulance Service had moved from City Hall.
Louis Jines, Chair of the Ambulance Board explained that the Board of Directors had not been meeting because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Commissioner Cockrel asked, “has the Board considered virtual meetings by phone or zoom”. Jines answered that the Internet service in his home area near Forkland was inadequate for virtual meetings.
Walter Staples, a military veteran serving on the Ambulance Board said, “Since I have been on the Board our role was to maintain the vehicles and medical supplies. We don’t have enough money coming in to require a budget.”
Dr. Pugh also indicated that the Ambulance Service had not picked up a patient recently from the Nursing Home who needed to be transported to Tuscaloosa for medical testing.
Nick Wilson, Director of the Ambulance Service said he was overwhelmed with other cases that day and was not able to pick up the person because it was not an emergency call. Wilson also questioned whether it was appropriate to air these complaints in a Greene County Commission meeting.
Commissioner Brown said the Commission would likely be sued if there was a serious problem and someone decided to sue the Ambulance Service.” Your board must meet, function and make decisions, follow your by-laws and act legally to avoid bringing complaints and lawsuits against the Ambulance Service and County Commission,” explained Brown.
Dr. Pugh said, “This is why the board needs to meet, review finances and policies and resolve problems before they are brought to the County Commission.”
Nick Martin and deputy chief, Zack Bolding, expressed some frustration with the process. “The County Commission gives the Ambulance Service only $28,000 toward our budget. We have had to raise money from other sources and private donors. In the 15 months that I have been director, no one from the County Commission has come to visit us at City Hall or Warrior Academy,” said Wilson.
Commission Brown said, “If you hold Board meetings, like your by-laws require and you invite us, we will come. Two of us can come at a time. We invited you to a budget meeting and a working session to discuss the problems but you did not come.”
The Commission’s counsel, Attorney Hank Sanders referred the Ambulance Board to its by-laws, “You have two members appointed by the Chair of the Commission, two members appointed by the City of Eutaw, and one each from the Towns of Forkland, Boligee and Union. All these political entities just had elections and the Mayors and the Commission Chair have the right to name your Board members. You need to check with them, get your board appointments and reorganize and operate properly under your by-laws.”
Attorney Sanders further advised that, “Your by-laws provide for the Ambulance Board to make an annual report to the Commission and the public, at the end of each fiscal year, on your contracts, leases, association memberships, finances, capital and operating budgets; major activities; compliance with local, state and federal regulations; and a statement of goals and objectives for the next year.”
The special meeting ended on a note of unity that the Ambulance Board would meet, reconstitute itself, discuss problems and plans and report back to the Commission and municipal entities with a clearer picture of its goals and needs for the future.

Local Referendum No.1 for property tax to support the Greene County Hospital and Health System will be on the November 3rd ballot

Probate Judge Rolanda Wedgeworth confirmed to the Greene County Democrat on Friday, that there will be a Local Referendum No. 1 on the November 3, 2020 ballot to raise ad valorem property tax in Greene County by 4 mills to benefit the Greene County Hospital.
John Zippert, Chairperson of the Greene County Hospital Board said, “We must pass this tax to support the hospital if we want to keep our hospital open and modernize and improve the services available from the hospital. In times of a global pandemic of coronavirus the need for a local hospital and related health facilities is clear.”
Dr. Marcia Pugh, GCHS Administrator and CEO said, “Our financial reports show that the Greene County Health System has provided $100,000 a month in uncompensated care for Greene County residents. Funds from electronic bingo have helped to pay part of this but we are still going into debt each month to keep the hospital open.”
She continued, “Our physical plant was built in 1961, 60 years ago. Since I have been Administrator, we have had to replace physical systems, like our sewage pipes, telephone system, computer systems, laundry machines, and other necessary services. We have upgraded our laboratory, X-ray machine, emergency room area and we are planning to improve our MRI and other imaging services. Some of this new tax money will go to modernize and improve our facilities and medical services.”
This Local Referendum No.1 and six Statewide Amendments will be on the ballot for November 3, 2020 if you vote absentee or at the polls.
“A 4 mil increase in taxes amounts to $4.00 per $1,000 of assessed valuation of property in Greene County. This is a small price to pay for a 24/7 emergency room, staffed by physicians, comfortable hospital rooms, laboratory, X-ray, up-to-date imagining, compassionate skilled nursing, and many other services,” said Zippert.
Based on current valuations of property in Greene County, one mil of property tax will generate $160,000 in revenues, so passage of this referendum would provide $640,000 in needed revenues, each year, for the Greene County Hospital, beginning in 2022.
Local Referendum No. 1 states: “The Greene County Commission resolved that, pursuant to Constitutional Amendment 76 (Sec.215.02) of the Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, the issue of a four (4) mil special county tax on each dollar of taxable property in Greene County for the construction, operation, equipping and maintenance of the public or nonprofit hospital facilities of the Greene County Health System shall be submitted to the electors of Greene County, Alabama on the November 3, 2020 General Election. If a majority o0f qualified electors participating in the election shall vote in favor of the referendum, then the said taxes shall be levied and collected and provided to the Greene County Health System.” The Greene County Democrat will include more information on this referendum in future issues. We also welcome your opinions, please write us Letters to the Editor on this tax referendum.

Alabama records 6,750 cases of coronavirus with 242 deaths; Greene Co. has 47 cases and one death

Mobile Health Unit from Maude Whatley Health Center conducts Coronavirus testing on Greene County Courthouse Square on Tuesday, April 29, 2020.
Eutaw Police Chief, Derick Coleman, presents a Teddy Bear toy to a small child as consolation to calm her just before COVID-19 test was administered on Tuesday.

As of 9:00 AM on April 29, 2020, the New York Times compilation of coronavirus data shows 6,750 confirmed cases in Alabama with 242 deaths. In Greene County there are 47 confirmed cases with one death.
74,000 people in Alabama have been tested for the virus, which is 1.4 per cent of the total population of the state that has been tested.
Maude Whatley Health Services from Tuscaloosa had a mobile unit at the Courthouse Square in Eutaw on Tuesday and tested 70 more Greene County residents.
A chart from the New York Times data center shows that Alabama is still experiencing 200 new cases per day down from highs of 300 per day earlier in the month.
Nationally the United States has over a million cases with over 58,000 deaths, in three months, more than the total number of people killed in the Vietnam War, which lasted a decade.
Some states have begun to relax economic and business closures. In Georgia, the Governor has agreed to open personal care businesses, like barbershops, retail stores and restaurants, with some social distancing regulations.
Governor Kay Ivey issued a “Safer at Home” order allowing retail establishments to open with a maximum capacity of 50% with physical distancing and regular sanitation by end of this week. She also reopened Alabama’s Gulf Coast beaches and allows for drive church services, funerals and other gatherings. Restaurants and personal service businesses will be closed for another 15 days with the exception of drive-through and take-out food services.
Meetings of people are limited to ten and must abide by social distancing. For Greene County, officials met and put out an informational briefing urging people to abide by CDC and ADPH regulations.
The information brief contains this warning, “There is mutual agreement between county law enforcement and city law enforcement to assist each other in all matters relating to coronavirus. Going forward, any gathering exceeding the emergency mandates of 10 persons will be issued citations that may result in fines and/or possible jail time.”
Greene County
Nursing Home
Dr. Marcia Pugh, CEO and Administrator of the Greene County Health System indicated that they were able to test all residents of the Greene County Nursing Home for the virus. The Democrat has learned that half of the residents have tested positive for the virus but most of these were asymptomatic, showing no symptoms of the virus.
Eight (8) positive Nursing Home residents have been transferred to other hospitals for treatment because of their underlying heath conditions. One transferred resident has died. The Nursing Home is expecting many of its transferred patients to be returned once they have recovered.
In her statement, Dr. Pugh indicated, “Like most of the Nursing Homes throughout the state, the Greene County Nursing Home is having its share of residents and staff that are fighting COVID.
Guidelines are being received daily from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Alabama Department of Health (ADPH). Our Administrative staff and Infection Prevention are being diligent in keeping up with the daily changes. We are actively participating in the routine statewide update calls.
We appreciate the donated supplies from all over the state that are assisting us in the fight against COVID. The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) consisting of Tyvek suits, face shields, masks, shoe covers, and bonnets are used daily by our staff. Our health care team are all truly heroes in this battle.”
Dr. Pugh also stated that the Alabama National Guard was sending a team a clean and sanitize the entire facility –hospital, nursing home and physician’s clinic – on Thursday, April 30, 2020 to enhance the effectiveness of the system to withstand the virus.

Commission adopts resolution citing sheriff’s failure to provide funds for specific departmental support

The Greene County Commission met in regular session on April 13, 2020, observing the emergency precautions directed by state and national government. The commissioners and staff were positioned approximately six feet apart and wore protective masks. The number of all in attendance was kept to the maximum of ten and visitors were also seated at required distances.
The commission adopted two resolutions: One resolution, dated April 13, 2020, regarded the notice of failure of the Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison to provide funds to the Greene County Commission as stated in an earlier resolution dated December 20, 2019 as amended. The commission is requesting that the sheriff make the sums set forth in Section 9 of the December 20, 2019 Resolution within five days of this notice, otherwise, the agreement is declared null and void, but all past due sums must be paid by the sheriff. The commission will adjust the sheriff’s budget accordingly.
Another resolution certified that all members of the Greene County Commission are in full support of the ad valorem tax resolution, dated April 13, 2020.
Dr. Marcia Pugh, CEO of the Greene County Health System, gave an update related to the COVID-19 pandemic in Greene County. She reported that as of April 13, there were 17 confirmed cases in Greene County. The hospital has one employee confirmed positive and the Nursing Home has two patients confirmed positive and are isolated.
Dr. Pugh also announced that on Wednesday, April 15, the Greene County Health Department would conduct testing for the virus by appointment only. The site would be opened from 10:00 a.m. to 12: noon. She also noted that the CDC is now recommending that everyone should wear a cloth face covering when out in public places.
Greene County EMA Director, Iris Sermon, gave an update local conditions. She stated that flood damage is ongoing and EMA has submitted all necessary documents. She reported that the recent storm only had a few trees and power lines down. No homes were reported damaged.
Sermon noted that the state is requesting that the county identify a mass burial site just in case it is needed. According to Sermon, the county coroner has a plan in place to evenly distribute bodies through the three local funeral homes if needed. She clarified that of the 17 positive COVID-19 cases reported for Greene County, two were erroneously attributed to Greene County.
In other business the commission acted on the following:
Approved garbage pickup for delinquent clients until Coronavirus Pandemic ends.
Approved dirt pit agreement with Don Wood.
Approved supplementary agreement with Goodwin, Mill and Cawood regarding bridge on County Road 69.
Approved financial report and payment of claims as follows: General Fund – $325,652.63;
Gasoline Fund – $223,907.17; Appraisal Fund – $10,633.65; Solid Waste – $27,0656.45; Senior Citizen Fund – $5,850.43; Federal Match – $109.09; Payroll Fiduciary – $33,818.14. Total of $627.036.56. Electronic Claims totaled $89,413.36.
The county’s bank balances as of March 20, 2020 are as follows: Citizen Trust Bank – $4,019,087.87; Merchants and Farmers Bank – $1,996,484.66; Bank of New York – $619,071.95

Eutaw Area Chamber of Commerce presents awards at Sue Vance Memorial Dinner

The Eutaw Area Chamber of Commerce presented awards at its annual membership meeting and Sue Vance Memorial Dinner on Thursday, March 21, 2019, held at the LAW Center. Among the award recipients were: (L to R) Rev. Christopher Spencer, Pastor of St. Matthew Watson Baptist Church for Religion, Mayor Raymond Steele of Eutaw for Government, Dr. Marcia Pugh, CEO of Greene County Health System for Health Care, Dr. Carol and John Zippert, Co-Publishers of the Greene County Democrat for Communications, Beverly Gordon, Chamber President, Dan Williams, WestRock Paper Co. for Business, Nancy Cole for Education, District Judge Lillie Jones Osborne for Community Service, Delphine McKenzie for the Sue Vance Service Award. Not shown Luther ‘Nat’ Winn, Greenetrack for the Leadership Award. Before a delicious dinner of Italian food specialties, the group heard an inspirational address by Attorney John Stamps III of the Black Belt Law Center in Bessemer, Alabama, who also co-sponsored the event.

SOS alerts voters to urgency of Medicaid expansion

Shown above ANSC President John Zippert, Latasha Brown, Shelly Fearson, Senator Hank Sander, Jeanette Thomas, Johnny Ford and Faya Rose Toure

 

The Save Ourselves Movement for Justice and Democracy (SOS) a coalition of forty social justice organizations in the state, held a press conference at the State House in Montgomery, Alabama. State Senator Hank Sanders of Selma said, “We are here today to alert voters, candidates and the press to the importance of healthcare and the expansion of Medicaid in the November General Election. Governor Ivey, as Governor, can take the step of expanding Medicaid for thousands of people.” A study by the Kaiser Foundation indicates that 500 to 700 people each year in Alabama are likely to die without Medicaid expansion – so this is a matter of life and death. The Alabama Hospital Association, a trade association for over 100 hospitals in the state says, “If Alabama expands Medicaid, almost 300,000 uninsured Alabamians would receive health insurance coverage, an estimated 30,000 jobs would be created, and $28 billion in new economic activity would be generated.  Alabama would also save millions of dollars on current state services.  “On average, in Alabama, almost one out of every 10 hospital patients does not have health insurance, resulting in more than $530 million annually in uncompensated care,” said Danne Howard, executive vice president and chief policy officer of the Alabama Hospital Association.  “Currently, 75 percent of Alabama’s hospitals are operating in the red, meaning the dollars they receive for caring for patients are not enough to cover the cost of that care.  Expanding Medicaid would be a significant investment in the state’s fragile health care infrastructure and would help maintain access to care for everyone.”

“In Greene County because we are a poor county, one in three patients do not have any insurance, which means we provide an average of $100,000 in uncompensated care per month. Expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act would help people in our county whose earn less than 138% of poverty (approximately $20,000 annual for a family of four) to secure affordable health insurance coverage,” said Dr. Marcia Pugh, Administrator of the Greene County Health System. Former Mayor of Tuskegee, Johnny Ford said “The SOS Health Committee would be remiss if we did not point out that Medicaid expansion is the issue, which must be in the forefront of voter’s minds as they go to the pools in one week. Walt Maddox and the Democratic candidates for statewide office have pledged to expand Medicaid to 300,000 working poor people on their first day in office. Incumbent Governor Kay Ivey has not expanded Medicaid during her tenure. She says that the state cannot afford the costs of expanding Medicaid. She is also supporting a proposed rule change, which will eliminate 70,000 caregivers from Medicaid unless they meet a work requirement, which will also make them financially ineligible for Medicaid coverage. Maddox says that Alabama needs to help its neediest people to receive health insurance coverage to improve healthcare and economic opportunities in the State of Alabama.” John Zippert, SOS Health Committee Co-chair pointed out that since 2010 when Medicaid expansion has been available under the Affordable Care Act, Alabama has lost $7 billion in Federal support under the program. For the first three years of the program, there was no cost to the states to participate. This has increased by 2.5% a year until it reached the maximum 10% this fiscal year. In addition in coming years beginning in 2020, the disproportionate share reimbursement rate payment to rural hospitals will decline because the program assumes coverage for low-income people in the state by Medicaid expansion under the ACA. Rural hospitals in states like Alabama, that have not expanded Medicaid, will begin to take a “double-whammy” for not expanding Medicaid – more patients without insurance coupled with lower reimbursement rates. Danne Howard, with the Alabama Hospital Association, notes that a recent study showed that hospitals in expansion states were 84 percent less likely to close than hospitals in non-expansion states.  “Alabama has had 12 hospitals close since 2011, and more are on the verge of closing if something doesn’t change,” she added. “Plus, the economic impact in other states has been tremendous; Louisiana has added 19,000 jobs; nearly 50 percent of new enrollees in Ohio have been able to receive mental health and substance abuse treatment, and the state has seen a 17-percent drop in emergency department use; Kentucky has seen an increase in state revenues of $300 million.” SOS calls this critical issue to the attention of voters and urges every registered voter to vote on November 6, 2018 with the need for equitable health insurance coverage in mind.

Alabama Hospital Association highlights importance of expanding Medicaid

News Analysis by: John Zippert, Co-Publisher

The Alabama Hospital Association, a statewide trade organization representing 100 hospitals in the state is launching the ALhealthmatters campaign highlighting the importance of expanding Medicaid. The Association says If Alabama expands Medicaid, almost 300,000 uninsured Alabamians would receive health insurance coverage, an estimated 30,000 jobs would be created, and $28 billion in new economic activity would be generated.  Alabama would also save millions of dollars on current state services.  “On average, almost one out of every 10 hospital patients does not have health insurance, resulting in more than $530 million annually in uncompensated care,” said Danne Howard, executive vice president and chief policy officer of the Alabama Hospital Association.  “Currently, 75 percent of Alabama’s hospitals are operating in the red, meaning the dollars they receive for caring for patients are not enough to cover the cost of that care.  Expanding Medicaid would be a significant investment in the state’s fragile health care infrastructure and would help maintain access to care for everyone.” “In Greene County because we are a poor county, one in three patients do not have any insurance, which means we provide an average of $100,000 in uncompensated care per month. Expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act would help people in our county whose earn less than 138% of poverty (approximately $20,000 annual for a family of four) to secure affordable health insurance coverage,” said Dr. Marcia Pugh, Administrator of the Greene County Health System. Howard adds that hospitals and other health care providers are a critical piece of the state’s infrastructure.  “Alabama’s hospitals employ about 90,000 individuals and indirectly support another 96,000 jobs,” she said.  “Not only are they often one of the largest employers in their communities, but hospitals also have a huge economic impact on their local economy.  Statewide, the annual economic impact of Alabama hospitals is nearly $20 billion, not to mention the pivotal role access to quality health care plays in recruiting and keeping new businesses.” The Alabama Hospital Association statement indicates the importance of expanding Medicaid but does not endorse the state’s Democratic political candidates who support Medicaid expansion. Walt Maddox, Democratic candidate for Governor, in the November election, says, “ I will expand Medicaid for Alabama during the first hour of the first day that I am Governor. We will find the resources to pay our part of the costs to pay for this critical life-saving service from our people.” Incumbent Gov. Kay Ivey has not expanded Medicaid and does not intend to because of cost. State Senator Hank Sanders said, “ It is clear that on the one issue of expanding Medicaid, there is a clear distinction between the candidates for Governor on the ballot in November.

Democratic candidate Walt Maddox will expand Medicaid and help save lives in Alabama as well as expand our economy in every county, while Kay Ivey will continue to oppose this program for narrow political reasons.” Since 2010 when Medicaid expansion has been available under the Affordable Care Act, Alabama has lost $7 billion in Federal support under the program. For the first three years of the program, there was no cost to the states to participate. This has increased by 2.5% a year until it reached the maximum 10% this fiscal year. In addition in coming years beginning in 2020, the disproportionate share reimbursement rate payment to rural hospitals will decline because the program assumes coverage for low-income people in the state by Medicaid expansion under the ACA. Rural hospitals in states like Alabama, that have not expanded Medicaid, will begin to take a “double-whammy” for not expanding Medicaid – more patients without insurance coupled with lower reimbursement rates. Howard notes that a recent study showed that hospitals in expansion states were 84 percent less likely to close than hospitals in non-expansion states.  “Alabama has had 12 hospitals close since 2011, and more are on the verge of closing if something doesn’t change,” she added. “Plus, the economic impact in other states has been tremendous; Louisiana has added 19,000 jobs; nearly 50 percent of new enrollees in Ohio have been able to receive mental health and substance abuse treatment, and the state has seen a 17-percent drop in emergency department use; Kentucky has seen an increase in state revenues of $300 million.” The AHA study says, “Investing in the rural health care infrastructure is critical as Alabama works to improve rural prosperity.  Alabama’s rural hospitals are an anchor in their communities‒creating jobs, providing critical care, and supporting other industries.   ​“When a rural hospital closes, other mainstays in the community often follow … local pharmacies, physicians, banks, and grocery stores to name a few. When a rural hospital closes, it’s very difficult to attract new business. “ ​Throughout the next few months, hospitals will be talking with business, civic and government leaders to stress the importance of expanding Medicaid in Alabama and to share quantitative results of the positive impact it is having in other states.  For more information on the impact Medicaid expansion could have in Alabama, visitwww.alhealthmatters.com.

Bingo facilities distribute $367,525 for month of May

Bingo.jpg

Shown above Bingo Clerk Emma Jackson, Brenda Burke representing the Greene County Commission, Bingo Clerk Minnie Byrd, Greene County Sheriff Jonathan Benison, Greene County Health System CEO, Dr. Marcia Pugh, Assistance Chief Walter Beck, Probate Judge Julia Spree and Boligee Councilwoman Earnestine Wade.

 

On Friday, June 15, 2018, Greene County Sheriff Department reported a total distribution of $367,525 for the month of May from the five licensed gaming operations in the county. The recipients of the monthly distributions from bingo gaming designated by Sheriff Benison in his Bingo Rules and Regulations include the Greene County Commission, the Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union, Boligee, the Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital (Health System).
The following assessments are for the month of May 2018.

Greenetrack, Inc. gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, the Greene County Health System, $7,500.
Green Charity (Center for Rural Family Development) gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, the Greene County Health System, $7,500.
Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $67,500 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, Greene County Health System, $7,500.
River’s Edge (NNL – Next Level Leaders and TCCTP – Tishabee Community Center Tutorial Program) gave a total of $73,225 to the following: Greene County Commission, $24,000; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $9,000; City of Eutaw, $4,500; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,000; Greene County Board of Education, $13,500, and the Greene County Health System, $13,225.
Palace (Tommy Summerville Police Support League) gave a total of $99,330 to the following: Greene County Commission, $4,620; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $36,930; City of Eutaw, $27,720; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $4,620; Greene County Board of Education, $4,620 and the Greene County Health System, $11,550.